Friday, February 25, 2011

Revolution in Egypt

The United States has lost an ally among Arab nations surrounding Israel, and some in our country think that is a cause for celebration. Hosni Mubarak has been a force for peace in the Middle East. He has maintained peace with Israel, and now he has been removed in the name of "democracy".

The youth of Egypt, concerned about unemployment and government corruption, started the revolution. Theirs was a mostly secular movement. The strongest power in opposition to Mubarak, the well-organized Islamic Brotherhood, waited a few days to see the strength of this youth movement, and then joined it, but kept their pro-Islamic image somewhat in the background. The two movements together toppled the regime. Mubarak was forced to step down, and army leaders established a temporary government intended to eventually lead to real democracy.

The Army is in administrative control right now, but the loosely organized youth movement and the well-organized Islam Brotherhood have strong influence, and the Army leaders cannot go too far against the wishes of those groups because the military leaders cannot order their men to do what they are not willing to do, such as fire on the crowds.

Although there are various factions and forces within the Islamic Brotherhood, it is anti-Israel and similar in some ways to the rulers of Iran. They have been repressed by Mubarak for a long time. They existed since the 1920s and carried out some attacks against British forces in Egypt during World War II, and some in the party may have tried to have friendly relationships with Hitler and the Nazis.

Mubarak was holding the Muslim Brotherhood in check. When he was weakened, the Muslim Brotherhood moved in to help support the revolution. They actually had greater organization and numbers, and by adding their strength, they gave the revolution the added power to succeed. During this time, they voluntarily restrained their members from fully displaying their Islamic loyalties and agenda. The revolution was started as a secular movement by young, mostly secular activists, and the Islamic Brotherhood adopted that image in helping the activists.

Now that Mubarak is gone, the restraint on the Islamic Brotherhood is gone, and they can seek power in Egypt.

But the alliance between the young, secular activists and the Islamic Brotherhood is not a natural alliance. It is a temporary alliance of convenience. Both were in opposition to Mubarak. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." It is their common enemy, Mubarak, who united them. But with Mubarak gone, they will not stay united. They have different agendas.

Basically, the Islamic Brotherhood took advantage of the revolution started by the secular activists, and now I think they have gained dominance in that revolution. The secular activists had the energy, but the Islamic Brotherhood has the experience and organization and discipline.

Struggles for power are not won by people in their twenties. They may be fought by people in their twenties, but older men win in the end, men who were fighters themselves when they were in their twenties perhaps but now have more cunning based on experience, and more organization. Hitler became leader of what was the beginning of the Nazi party when he was about 29, but he didn't finally win top power in Germany till he was in his late forties and early fifties.

The Islamic Brotherhood is not itself united in ideology. There are different forces within it, which is typical of many movements. Those forces will battle within it and within Egypt to gain power. One such force is a movement to establish a strongly anti-Israel Islamic state like Iran. That force can find alliances with similar forces
outside Egypt. A strong man within that movement may gain control over Egypt and suppress any competing forces.

The Army itself has various forces within it, but it will be hard for them to be strong against the Islamic Brotherhood.

I find parallels between what happened with Nazism in Germany and what is happening with the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt. Hitler won power because he was determined and kept unity in his party while his opposition was divided and weak-willed. Islamic extremists in Egypt may win the same way. They will be strong-willed, united, shrewd, and ruthless. They will be peaceful when it is their advantage to be peaceful and violent when it is to their advantage to be violent. They will take advantage of every weakness of their opponents, dividing them, using them, pitting them against each other, etc.

I think they will be peaceful while they work within a process of democracy to gain power. They will gain as much power as they can thru the ballot box, and they will win a share of power in the government. But when they have gone as far as they can that way, I think they will use terror and assassination to eliminate their enemies and gain total power. They will use the secular activists till they have enough power in government to weaken the government. They will woo and ally with the army as much as they can, in the beginning. But I think they will kill off key opposition leaders and terrorize the rest when the time comes for them to take total control.

They will do well in elections because they have more organization than any other legitimate political party.

The youths who have started the revolution and opened the door for the Islamic Brotherhood have no idea who and what they are dealing with. They have enthusiasm, technical skills, and perhaps good intentions. But they are naive and they are being used. They think they are building a long-lasting, peaceful democracy. I think otherwise.